Monday, November 26, 2018

Watch Out, World3: I Need a Lifesaver

My first step was to budget and follow our money in a way that made sense to us. I talked to many folks about how they managed their finances. Including my parents who lived debt-free their entire life with one tiny exception: the occasional XX-days-same-as-cash and their mortgage.

Now, they had six children. Took us on family vacations. Put all of us through additional education after our high school graduations. And retired quite comfortably.

I wanted that legacy to continue.

So, what budget tool would work for me?

We had to diminish our debt so we tackled it by adapting our own methods.

Debt Reduction Ain't Easy

It took two tries at debt-consolidation to realize that was not the answer. In both cases we ended up with the loan to consolidate and added more debt onto our credit cards. No reduction happening, yet.

Plus, I had an impulse buy issue. 

You know those handy-dandy items located by the checkout lanes? Those were made for me. I would stand there and the candy would look delicious. Then the kitchen gadget became something that I could use. Then I'd see ...

Well, something from those stands always ended up in my cart before I got to the register.

Impulse is so difficult to control. And I've never found an Impulse-Buyer-Anonymous group. 

Then, there are those mail-order catalogs. And, today, the online shopping makes it even tougher to manage.

Fortunately, I decided if I didn't have the cash in my pocket, I couldn't buy the object. Debit cards were not available just yet so it was a matter of either writing a check or paying cash. I hate writing checks so cash was the answer. If I didn't have the cash, I couldn't buy it.

That helped. Sort of. I mean, I still had a credit card in my wallet - just in case...

The spiral into that debt hole was deep, sharp and swift. Made me think of a whirlpool or eddy in a deep, deep, swift-running river.

Throw Me a Lifesaver!

And I don't mean the candy.

I had to do some serious soul searching to find what was triggering the impulse purchases. It quickly became evident I had a perspective issue and a heart issue .

First, my mother dropped a realization nugget in my lap: she simply made the comment "You know, when your dad and I started out we didn't have all the appliances and conveniences we do today. I don't see why kids believe they are supposed to have all these things when they get started."

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized I was trying to create for my home exactly what I'd become accustomed to when I left home. Yet, I didn't have the income and long-time growth my parents had built on.

So the sense of entitlement had to go. That was easy. Done. Gone. I could adjust that.

Then, in Larry Burkett's books (I now found a Bible study on financial management Larry wrote) I learned over 70% of Jesus' teachings dealt with material goods. You see, where our money goes is a great MRI to reveal our priorities. 

Clearly, I had a priority of myself, my kids, my spouse, my ... my ... my. Acknowledgement was the first step but how to overcome ME!?!?

Well, I knew that Jesus said "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". So, I began down a path of changing my treasure's location.

I had no idea what I was in for.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Watch Out, World2: Reality Bites

So in our 30s we had little to no savings; 5-figure debt; two boys we wanted to send to college and then we needed to think about retirement. And our income was pretty small - I recall about $45k for our household.

By now, I was a Primerica Financial Services representative (2nd job). Through Primerica I brokered mutual funds and talked to people about liquidating their whole / universal life insurance policies, buying term insurance and, with the money left over, save into mutual funds sheltered in an IRA for their future.

We called this "buy term and invest the difference." Conversations covered how much money is enough for life insurance and how much is enough for retirement.

Determining the life insurance piece was easy.
Here's how:
Think of the insurance as income-replacement.
To your current salary, add a zero. That's the amount of life insurance you need.
Example: Someone making a $25,000 annual salary would need $250,000 of life insurance.
During those 20 years two things can happen: you have to use the insurance or you don't. If you don't have to use it, you save money for 20 years creating a savings equal to the amount of the policy. After 20 years you do not renew because you are now self-insured. If you have to use it, you put the balance in a high-yield money market and pay yourself a salary.
Looking into a crystal ball to answer the question "How much is enough for retirement?" was easier than I'd thought.
Here's how:
First answer the question, "If you could retire today, how much annual income would you like to have?" $100,000 was our answer.
Well, we applied the average inflation rate (3.6%) and found out we needed to have $1,250,000 to retire. OH CRAP! We'd have to have over 1 million dollars?!?!?
We crunched some more numbers and determined if we saved $345 a month (more than $10 a day) for the next 30 years AND got 12% interest, we could actually reach that goal. Hurray for compound interest!
Lost? Well, in the 1980s the Internet didn't offer so many resources. But here's my personal favorite - Chris Hogan's R:IQ Retirement Calculator if you'd like to know your own retirement number. If you want to find your own calculator simply search "retirement calculator" in your favorite search engine.
Our response?

We went out to eat and charged it on our credit card.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Watch out, World

Since my last post over a year ago, I've accomplished some crazy things. At least, crazy for me.

I have completed two classes through two different organizations that empower me to help answer investment questions during formal training at Transformational Investing Workshops by Phil Town and I have completed my Financial Master Coach certification through Ramsey Solutions.

If you had told past me as a young mother 30 or so years ago that I would be helping people with their financial goals, I probably would have laughed (possibly hysterically).

The next several blogs will review this little journey. Hopefully, it will add to your life.

Looking Back


Our financial picture wasn't very good. We didn't have $1,000 saved in anything. No IRA. But we had credit cards. A lovely assortment of colorful plastic that were well used and "helped" us get from one paycheck to the next.

This is the cover of the book I read.
However, Crown Ministries still has
copies for sale. 
Then, in my church library I stumbled across a book: Debt-Free Living by Larry Burkett.

As best as I can recall it was a bit of a depressing read at first. Larry (no, I don't know Mr. Burkett, but that's how I refer to most people who have mentored me indirectly or personally) shared three case studies:
  1. A young couple with minimal income (no kids), 
  2. A seasoned couple with huge income and out-of-control spending, 
  3. A businessman facing bankruptcy.
All their situations were different forms of bondage to the debt they'd amassed. But each decided to face their debt.

I stuck with the book and each had a happy ending either due to their diligent efforts, faithful discipline and, in one case, grace and mercy from a bank who saw the commitment to pay it all back.

It was inspiring and convicting. My husband and I knew we had to do something and I began to read.

And read.

And read some more.

Next step? Reality Bites

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Melody and Harmony

In my last post, I mentioned the writing of Christmas Redemption and its presentation Dec. 10 and 11 at Aspen Park Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, OK.

After we'd completed most of the writing, I was honored to lead a Bible study with the women of our church. The name is Fight Like a Girl and was created by Lisa Bevere.

In this study, Lisa reminds women about the amazing creation we are. She points out how important we are to God because He needed a solution to Adam's loneliness when He created Eve.

She had a voice that was hidden inside Adam. God drew that voice out of Adam's side and made it so it could be heard together with Adam's.

Teaching about the partnership and cooperation created in the garden of Eden was pretty cool. But even more amazing was living it out.

In 1975 God brought my husband and me together and we married two-and-a-half years later.

As I stated in my previous post, my husband is a melody man. He also loves words. He has written music since he was a teenager. The melodies he creates are really good. And I say that as a musician with years of theory and practice behind me.

His melodies meet the technical criteria for interest. But then you add in the natural talent God created in him and you get some beautiful tunes.

Now, I went to college and actually declared music as my major. So God trained me in harmony. Theory. Composition.

Then over the past 35+ years He began to shape my life. He humbled me. He taught me how to love. He taught me how to get out of His way and allow Him to touch people through the music that flowed from my hands. Then He kept walking me up my life's path higher and higher.

So, back to the Bible study, God has used my life with my husband to illustrate the helpmate role of woman for man.

For me creating Christmas Redemption was thrilling walk with God. It's the culmination of my life that He has shaped to bring me to "such a time as this" (see Esther, chapter 4)

I know one of the reasons God created me was to be my husband's helpmate to create the music people heard that Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11, 2016.

Being able to see this was a privilege I hope to pass on to others around me.

We each were designed by a Creator Who desires for us to discover why He made us as we are.
  • Why He placed us in the family He did. 
  • Why He gifted us with our own mix of abilities. 
  • Why He brought circumstances into our lives to mold us. Teach us.
I encourage anyone who reads this post to persevere in discovering why The Creator designed you as He did. He promises to show you if you keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking. (Luke 11)

Friday, December 2, 2016

What a ride!

Three years ago a friend, Steve Cowen, approached our minister of music, Tom Clark, about a drama he'd written. It was for Christmas.

Tom pointed Steve to my husband, Scott, for the music needed to accompany the drama and then life took over.

Typical interruptions:

  • Illness.
  • Death.
  • Departures.
  • Arrivals.
  • Retirement.


It's amazing how God brings about events in our lives to prepare us for tasks He has for us to complete.

So earlier this year (2016) Scott and Steve decided now was the time to present the drama.

Yeah - Scott and I wrote the music but that's the side story. The real story is God illustrating the beautiful mate and helpmate created when He originally designed man and woman.

You see, Scott is a melody kind of person. When we listen to music, he will always sing or hum the melody.

I, however, am a harmony person. When I listen to music, I always migrate to a harmony to sing or hum.

So in 1977 when God put Scott and me together, he was preparing us to write this music.

I am amazed at what flowed out of us. It is too beautiful to be ours. It is too meaningful to be ours. It is thrilling to see Him show up in our lives like this.

In a very short time all was ready for rehearsing and we will debut Christmas Redemption on Dec. 10 and 11, at 5:00 pm, at our little church in Broken Arrow, OK (Aspen Park Baptist Church, 4404 S. Aspen Ave., Broken Arrow, OK).

More of the story will be posted in my next blog.

For now I will close by quoting JSBach - "To God be the glory".



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It Is Finished

I don't think most of us realize what those three words spoken by Jesus Christ really mean.

Do you remember in the garden when Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit? At that time a schism was placed between our Creator and us. Enmity was set up between mankind and Satan.

Those three words mark the destruction of that schism and the enmity is destroyed.

But we don't live our lives that way, do we?

So many of us know so much about our own faults that we don't understand the tremendous gift available to us. We have ourselves on our own minds so much we don't hear what Jesus did for us. We believe we must make ourselves worthy.

Paul reminds us “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Through death, Jesus gave us a covering of a perfect man. If you will accept that cover, God will look at you and see Jesus, the one perfect man who lived as God originally created us to live.

No. You are not worthy. Jesus, however, is.

It is finished.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Needy?

For a moment, think about how desperately someone you know seems to need you.

How does that feel? Flattering? Scary? Like you are being set up to fail? Are you even up to the task of being all they NEED you to be?

Do you like that feeling?

What emotions does it evoke when someone says to you "I need you so much."?

Does that stress you out?

This blows my mind to think about but bear with me as I try to write the words.

God. Almighty. Complete. The unique being Who created us in His image.

God. Infinite. Without need.

I love seeing young people
helping our elderly.
Planting seeds for their future!
Yet, somehow He needs you. He needs me. It's a need He started because He has chosen to love on His creation through you. Through me.

Now does that stress you out? It shouldn't.

Think for a second. Why would God who created you and knows everything about you - how you were made. WHY you were made. Purposes He created you particularly to fulfill - to complete. Why would God need you in an area where you could fail?

Instead, be amazed. Be amazed that God designed you to meet those needs. He has entrusted His creation into your hands. He has trusted you - me - to love others to care for others to help others because He designed us that way.

When I stop and think about how much God believes in me I am amazed.

The invisible God Who desires to remain that way to build our faith has chosen to be made visible via human hands and feet. Through those who believe in Him and need Him, He blesses the world.

Amazing!

Afterthought:

So, who is it you need?

Why not give them a break? Gift them with no longer "needing" them. Transfer your need to God Who promises to provide all you need.

Philippians 4:9 - But my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.